Wednesday 16 October 2019

Minister calls on insurers to cut premiums as industry here described as 'very profitable'

Josie Daly, owner of Kiddies Kingdom Photo: Mark Condren
Josie Daly, owner of Kiddies Kingdom Photo: Mark Condren
Josie Daly, who has to close Kiddies Kingdom in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow Pic: Mark Condren

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

JUSTICE Minister Charlie Flanagan has described the insurance industry as highly profitable and said there was scope to cut premiums.

He said jobs were at risk from soaring premiums and the inability of some companies to get cover.

The level of awards in personal injury cases was too high and needs to be addressed, the minister said.

Addressing the Seanad on a bill that aims to cap injury awards, Mr Flanagan said the latest data for the industry showed insurers making profits.

“The annual profits of ten major insurance companies amounted to between €6.1m and €201m at the end of 2017 with the total assets of insurance corporations reported by the Central Bank to be €305bn at the end of last year. 

“There is clearly scope to reduce insurance costs for consumers and I am calling on the industry to act.”

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan

He was commenting on the Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019 proposed by his party colleague Senator Tony Lawlor.

The Justice and Equality Minister added: “The insurance industry in Ireland is very profitable and, while I commend the companies involved for their success, I believe it is incumbent on them to consider the onerous costs of premiums. 

“In my view there is not a proportionate relationship between the claims made and the constant hiking of insurance costs which are threatening livelihoods at this stage.”

He said the level of awards in personal injury cases needs to be addressed.

Mr Flanagan said the Law Reform Commission has committed to conducting a detailed analysis of awards to come up with caps that a constitutionally sound.

The Minister said that the Government would not oppose the Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019 as it was important to facilitate a debate. 

However, there were many difficulties with the proposed bill, including constitutional difficulties which would need to be addressed at committee stage, he said.

His comments came as two play centres in Dublin and Co Carlow have been forced to close this week after their insurance costs soared by 300pc, resulting in the loss of dozens of jobs.

Claire Doyle and Tracy Smullen, owners of Kidspace in Rathfarnham, Dublin, announced the news to their "heartbroken" staff and customers on Tuesday night.

Kidspace's insurance is up for renewal this weekend and they received a quote representing a €25,000 increase on last year's premium.

Another play centre which closed its doors this week after 15 years in business is Kiddies Kingdom in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.

Only one broker, Leisure Insure, which is based in the United Kingdom, would give them a quote.

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